This photo is of my first trip to Ireland with my husband and kids. We survived a 6 hour red eye with a 5 and 1 year old, picked up our car rental, and headed into the unknown! I did my research, prepared a fantastic three week long itinerary, and hoped the weather would cooperate. We set out from Dublin and headed around the Emerald Isle counter-clockwise, hitting many of the major sites, and some of the lesser known ones, on our journey. It was one of our best trips yet, and one of the rainiest! The "spitting" (a light rain to the Irish) only added to the trip, allowing us to enjoy the island's beautiful landscapes.
Ireland is a wonderful summer getaway, with long days and good weather. While you want to make sure to see the Cliffs of Moher, Killarney National Park, and Blarney Castle, there are a lot of other things to see. But before you book that brewery tour or get too excited about visiting Dublin's Grafton Street, here are a few tips to make for a more enjoyable trip.
Consider Car Travel
The best sites in the Emerald Isle are seen via public transportation or tour buses, but renting a car is not a great idea to get to those obscure sites. when renting a vehicle, remember that rural roads in Ireland are narrow and usually do not have a shoulder. Also, the Irish drive on the left side of the road and pass on the right. Don't worry...you will get the hand of it quickly.
All those goodies you'll find to buy on Grafton Street are tax-free! That's right, travelers who live outside the European Union can shop tax-free in Ireland. Make sure to apply for a Fexco Horizon Card prior to your trip so you can register and swipe it in affiliated stores in the country and claim sales tax back on the purchases.
And while we're on the topic of shopping, it's important to note that, as part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland uses pound sterling rather than the euro. I advise clients to plan ahead and exchange currencies before departing on your trip. this not only saves time, but gives you a chance to make sure you get the best exchange rate. When using a credit card you will be asked if you want to be charged in euros or dollars. Choose euros (or pounds if in Northern Ireland).
Irish weather is not extreme, but the country does get a lot of rain, particularly along its west coast, and mornings can be chilly. If you're traveling to Ireland during winter, know that the season's days are short. The sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets at about 4 p.m., which means you have to cram a lot of sightseeing into a few hours. But during summer, the sunsets as late as 10 p.m. Be mindful of these seasonal changes, pack light layers of clothing and a pair of rain boots or waterproof shoes, and you should be just fine.
I chose to pack rainboots. While they are heavy and take up a bit of room, they were worth it to us. We also chose to bring rain jackets and forego the clunky umbrellas.
Heritage Cards May Be Helpful
If you plan to visit the country's many cultural attractions, picking up a Heritage Card from the Office of Public Works could be a good idea. This card entitles you to free admission to all heritage sites managed by the state for an entire year. These sites include castles and national parks. I can help you decide if a Heritage Card will be beneficial to you during the planning process.
Now that you have a few of my tips to a successful Ireland trip, all you need is an itinerary. I would love to help you experience Ireland, whether it is your first time, or your fifth time! I hope to hear from you soon. Sláinte!